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Contact Info:
Tufts University
Department of Anthropology
304 Eaton Hall
Medford, MA 02155

Office: 617-627-6307


Sarah Luna
Assistant Professor
The Kathryn A. McCarthy, J45, AG46, Assistant Professor in Women's Studies

Ph.D. The University of Chicago, 2013
M.A. The University of Chicago, 2005
B.A. The University of Texas at San Antonio, 2003

Sex work, migration, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, borders, Mexico, United States

Major Awards

  • Consortium for Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship, Davidson College (2017)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, "The Cross-Border Connection: Immigrants, Emigrants, and their Homelands," University of California, Los Angeles, June 15-July 17 (2015)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, University of Houston (2014-2017)
  • Center for US-Mexican Studies, Pre-doctoral Fellowship, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at University of California, San Diego (2012-2013)
  • James C. Hormel Dissertation Fellowship in Sexuality Studies, University of Chicago (2011-2012)
  • Northeast Consortium Dissertation Year Visiting Diversity Fellowship, Department of Anthropology, University of Rochester (2010-2011)
  • United States Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Abroad Fellowship in Mexico (2009)
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (2003-2006)

Scholarship & Research
My research focuses upon how the US/Mexico border is both productive of and made legible by socially meaningful forms of difference through categories such as gender, race, and sexuality. I am currently revising my first book manuscript, which is tentatively titled Selling Sex and Finding Jesus: Love and Obligation on the Mexican Border.

Selling Sex and Finding Jesus is based on twelve months of ethnographic research conducted from 2008 to 2009 in the Mexican border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas during the height of the drug war. My analysis of two groups of migrants—Mexican sex workers and the white American missionaries who seek to "save" them— reveals how both groups create value through relations of obligation and love.

I am in the early stages of two research projects. The first examines the political action of sex workers in Mexico City. The second is a disidentificatory ethnography of white, heteronormative exercise culture as well an investigation of alternative practices by people whose bodies are seen as excessive in these spaces due to their queerness, racially marked status, or size.

2018. Affective Atmospheres of Terror on the Mexico-U.S. Border: Rumors of Violence in Reynosa's Prostitution Zone. Cultural Anthropology 33: 58-84.